And now, Indian etiquette classes in London


London : Kissing Indian women goodbye is out for young British businessmen and professionals flying out to India to explore new job opportunities.

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And visitors should be mindful of something that every Indian knows – their hosts are terrible at timekeeping.

These pointers to how to go about your business in India are part of etiquette classes being offered by the UK India Business Council (UKIBC) – the British government’s lead organisation supporting the promotion of bilateral trade, business and investment.

The classes, dubbed “cultural briefings”, are part of an Insight India series and are being held in London as part of the UKIBC’s efforts to foster greater and better understanding of Indian practices among young British professionals and business people.

“Helping business succeed in India is our priority and integral to doing business in India is an understanding of its religions, politics and etiquette,” said UKIBC CEO Sharon Bamford.

According to Bamford, India is witnessing a “wholesale migration of intellectual capital” from Britain, with Indian companies recruiting Britons at all levels from new graduate to senior management.

According to the British Council, there are already over 32,000 Britons who live in India and the number is growing steadily.

The etiquette lessons, taught by well-known culture experts, are aimed at giving Britons an understanding of the different values and attitudes as well as addressing stereotypes and generalisations.

The following are some key lessons from the UKIBC’s “Indian business etiquette”:

· Greet with a smile, handshake and small talk;

· Saying “Namaste” with a slight bow and palms together will be appreciated;

· With women, only shake hands if they offer it. Do not kiss them in greeting or goodbye;

· Dress conservatively and formally;

· Always address colleagues with title followed by surname e.g. Mr Patel. Using a first name is seen as being very familiar and disrespectful;

· Don’t open gifts until the giver has left the room. Don’t seem too eager to open gifts;

· Indians are not always punctual. So be patient and flexible;

· They may call on weekends for discussing business. Don’t be offended;

· Standing with hands on hips is considered rude; and

· Do not talk down or patronisingly to Indian colleagues and business partners.